Taken from The
MY ORIGINAL title for The Rocky Horror Show was They Came From
Denton High, because it reminded me of all those B-movies. At
21, the show has now come of age and I reckon the movie alone
has grossed more than dollars 160m, but that doesn't mean I've
got money coming out of my ears.
Rocky came to life
in 1973. I'd started out as an actor, but had the kind of looks
which meant I could never be a blank canvas and, having been
out of work long enough to feel I'd paid my dues, was ready
to chuck in the towel. My then wife was in work, in the musical
Hair, and I was the one at home nights babysitting our son,
James. To amuse myself in the evenings I'd chip away at my little
After a month I had
enough material to mention the idea to Jim Sharman at the Royal
Court in Sloane Square, and he later directed it. The show opened
at the Royal Court, but quickly transferred to the King' s Road,
where it would run for seven years.
Rocky was also staged
successfully in Los Angeles, and then we did the movie of the
show. The deal was with Fox, but in those days video sales never
entered anyone's head. When Fox later released the video it
moved 100,000 copies at $99.99 each and went on to make at least
$18m. I received a cheque for 10,000 pounds.
Appalled, I complained
to Michael White and Lou Adler, producers of both show and film,
and got a cheque for 40,000 pounds from Fox. Actually, I saw
only a tiny percentage of the producers' royalty from the movie,
and then had to give back 20 per cent to White and Adler because
they' d produced the original stage show. The fact that they
get the lion' s share of the royalties does stick in the old
throat a bit, but there' s nothing I can do. And I'd rather
have 1 per cent of something than 100 per cent of nothing.
There were never
vast amounts of money coming in, never enough for me to feel
secure or expect not to struggle to pay the mortgage. We made
a follow-up film to Rocky, called Shock Treatment. The soundtrack
was actually better, but the film was absolutely lousy, and
when Lou Adler cut a trailer to the title song he took all the
best clips and made the better movie.
I was never ambitious
as far as career was concerned, so long as I was enjoying my
eternal amateur approach to the things I liked. Then followed
many years of excess, marital problems, bringing up children
single-handed and a constant fear of being found out as a fraud.
I never thought I was a writer anyway; it's only in the past
year that I've taken any credit for anything I've done in my
life - and I had to go into analysis to come to terms with that.
The Crystal Maze
on Channel 4 grabbed virtually unheard-of audiences of five
million for the station. But the one thing I couldn't understand,
and still don't to some extent, was that although I was someone
who actually did the numbers for them, they never waved the
flag for the show or tried to woo me as a Channel 4 person in
the same crazy manner as they wooed Jonathan Ross. I could drive
down the street and see yet another show and billboard for Jonathan,
who picked up audiences just under the million mark. I felt
if they could afford a billboard for him, why not Crystal Maze,
I like Jonathan.
I'm not blaming him, I'm blaming Channel 4 people; they should
have taken me on board as a viable Channel 4 personality. And
when, after four years, I said I'd had enough of Crystal Maze
they should have asked if there was anything else they could
have found me.
Today I'm writing
an act for Mephistopheles the Demon, who wants to be a star
of rock'n'roll. I try him out with pre-show spots on some of
the dates of the 21st birthday party tour of Rocky. I have no
idea what game plan Mephistopheles has; he's probably a lot
more ruthless and ambitious than I am.
To some extent I
am just an ageing hippie but I pre-date the hippie era, I'm
actually an old Fifties adolescent. I've never managed to grow
up particularly - I would say I'm the victim of an arrested